By Carole Hisasue
The myth that Fukushima radiation levels were too low to harm humans is a political view, not scientific. The pro-nuclear chants of “no harm” and “no studies needed” are part of the industry’s damage control.
It echoes the US Government’s initial statement that all casualties from the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were from the blast and no one died from radiation, acute or otherwise. Of course, they had to retract that in the months to follow as the truth could no longer be hidden.
X-rays to abdomens of pregnant women, exposure to atom bomb fallout and exposures to nuclear weapons workers were all once presumed to be harmless due to low dose levels – until scientific studies proved otherwise. Officials have dropped their assumptions on these types of exposures but continue to claim that Fukushima was harmless.
The Japanese government has recognized the death of one Fukushima plant worker to be a result of exposure but because of economics (not wanting to have to compensate hundreds or thousands of victims), and to maintain their pro-nuclear stance, they have not recognized any other deaths from radiation.
In addition, because death from cancers caused by radiation happens years later, victims have an extremely difficulty proving that the cancers were directly related to radiation exposure – Masao Yoshida, general manager at Fukushima Daiichi developed cancer and died in 2013 at the age of 58 but both TEPCO and the government are not recognizing it as being related to Fukushima.
Outside official government studies however, just one year after the accident, 573 deaths in the area near the stricken reactors were certified by coroners as related to the nuclear crisis, with dozens more deaths to be reviewed. Another survey showed that births near Fukushima declined 25 percent in the three months following the meltdowns.
Perinatal mortality in areas contaminated with radioactive substances started to increase 10 months after the nuclear accident relative to the prevailing and stable secular downward trend. In severely contaminated areas, the increases of perinatal mortality 10 months after Fukushima were essentially independent of the numbers of dead and missing due to the earthquake and the tsunami. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5044925/)
But even something similar happened at Diablo Canyon and there were no deaths from the radiation, you cannot ignore deaths caused by evacuation, long-term displacement. You can’t ignore increased numbers of suicides, mental stress, despair, anxiety, depression. Livelihoods taken away can be as bad as lives taken away. Our agriculture and fishing industries, not to mention tourism would all die. Nothing is as it was in Fukushima after the accident and the same will be the case in SLO.
So saying “nobody died” as a way to promote the continued operation of a nuclear plant in an earthquake zone is simply wrong.